Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
When I was a schoolboy in the 30s we were taught when forced to walk on the road to walk facing traffic. It made sense to be able to see a car or truck coming at you rather than blindly trusting the driver behind you. Today this precaution is even more appropriate with drivers often distracted by cell phones, water bottles and kids.
Yet, as I drive on the Vineyard's many narrow and winding roads I frequently come up behind walkers and runners sometimes two or three abreast some pushing a baby carriage with their backs to traffic.
I can only hope that any who may read this will not "turn their backs" on this commonsense advice.
Unreasonable bar to kayak delivery
To the Editor:
I do not understand the discriminatory policy of Edgartown and the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank that prohibits kayak rental companies from delivering and picking up kayaks at either the Edgartown or Tisbury Great Ponds. This policy was apparently instituted several years ago after problems with only one obnoxious kayak provider who wrongly attempted to set up his business at the Great Ponds and was also discourteous to an Edgartown selectman. The troublemaker was apparently fined substantially after a prolonged process and may have left the Island.
My wife and I enjoy kayaking, but we are unable to handle the transportation of kayaks. For many years we rented a house in Edgartown and then made a substantial payment to the Land Bank when we purchased our Island home. I find it very unfair and possibly a violation of the Americans with Disability Act to be barred from kayaking on the great ponds because of our physical limitations and the actions of one insufferable kayak operator who no longer is in business.
The kayak rental services we have used deliver and pick up kayaks at landing sites as quickly, if not more quickly, than private users of kayaks and boats. They are always considerate of others and do not set up business at any of the Vineyard ponds. I have spoken with Land Bank personnel who have confirmed that Island kayak services are courteous and cause no problems. It is hard to understand why the intelligent and capable Edgartown selectmen and the Land Bank cannot come up with reasonable rules to control the rental of kayaks without depriving many of us of access to the great ponds. Accordingly, I strongly urge that this discriminatory policy be replaced by one that does not punish many Vineyarders and visitors for the misdeeds of one.
West Tisbury and Philadelphia
A family evening
To the Editor:
Last Sunday night, Aug. 20, my family attended a joyous family event at the Outerland. Billed as Dancerama, it was advertised with three great draws and fun music to dance to, free admission and a family friendly menu, and all three turned out to be true. We arrived soon after the opening. Not too many people were there, but the place began to fill up. We had my daughter and her two children ages five and a half and two and a half. They had been here a week and we were running out of new and inexpensive things to do, especially in the late afternoon/early evening time slot. The kids danced and danced and played with other kids. We all ate, and we all danced. It was fun, friendly and exhausting for all. At 7 pm, we left tired and ready for a good night's sleep.
We would like to thank the O and compliment them on an innovative way to use the club earlier in the evening and give families a fun event as well. We love the new O, and the Motown evening was one of the best events we have attended on the Island in many years. But having family events as well makes this an even better venue for the Island. I hope they keep up the good work and that everyone gives the O a try early or later any evening.
Ellie and Harvey Beth
A party in
To the Editor:
Goats happen. Some of you may remember the capricious home invasion we suffered last January when two goats broke into our house and destroyed almost everything in it. We want to assure everyone that all the damage has been repaired and the house is in better shape than ever.
This morning I woke up and realized that for the last six years the whole country has been living through a similar situation: goats have broken into the houses of government and destroyed almost everything we hold precious about this country. The environment, the economy, foreign relations, civil liberties - all are in a bad way and need to be fixed. Worst of all, we're less secure than ever. It's as if when goats from abroad attacked us, we responded by declaring war on the sheep - and in the process they seem to have developed very sharp horns.
Goats happen - but we can deal with them. We have a chance coming up in November to throw the rascals out and repair our country's houses. In May we had a post-goat house restoration party. Let's have another one this November.
Steve and Ellen Levine
Real roundabout data
To the Editor:
Oak Bluffs has a problem we all share at "that intersection." The problem is one with no perfect solution, not because there isn't one, but because the road itself is not the problem, the traffic is.
The only way that the selectmen and selectwomen should be able to make a decision, not to mention the rest of us, is if they see the entire plan complete with bus stops, signage, emergency access plans to and through "in season", and we see a plan where bicycles and pedestrians are not involved with 15-20 mph crossing traffic (because that is just ridiculous).
Two years ago, when it seemed like that intersection was "going roundabout," I contacted an engineer in California who designs roundabouts for a living. He looked at the intersection with all the information that could be provided at the time. Understanding what buses do, what pedestrians and bicyclists do and what drivers do: he said, "I don't know about this..." So, while a roundabout video game with one player might be cool, the 99 percent safer this intersection is than it was should be enough to stop the cherry-picking of data and opinions, but apparently it is not.
If a complete plan was developed, and I mean down to the words on signs, I am for the notion of installing a temporary and functionally complete roundabout as long as it stays up for a "whole year." That means, not shuffling it in from January to March, which is when we all know where we're going, when the traffic is light, the buses are empty and the bikes are in the garage.
It's not time for the selectpersons to put their votes on the line for good, but let's hope when they do they will have a complete understanding of how this roundabout is really going to work, and how many lives, and quality of lives, it will cost relative to the solution we have now.
With all due respect, unless you've ever been in a revolving door with a caffeinated muscle man (lead foot), a man leading a camel (18-wheeeler), a baby (doesn't know where it's going) and a messenger (nut on bike) - a roundabout is not a "revolving door for cars" and it is hardly "unfair to leave it the way it is" if it's safer, cheaper and more civil, is it?
To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter to the Oak Bluffs selectmen.
On the evening of Aug. 10, our daughter, visiting on a week's vacation, was walking along the seawall on Seaview Avenue, when she stepped into a hole and injured her foot. The next morning, when she found that she could not stand on her foot, she went to the hospital Emergency Room. An X-ray revealed two breaks in the metatarsals of her left foot.
We enjoy walking along the seawall at all times of day, so I went back to investigate; I was surprised to discover several holes where the concrete had eroded, making walking very dangerous.
I hope that you can remedy this problem as soon as possible, to avoid further accidents to walkers and bikers. Thank you for you attention to this problem.
To the Editor:
I took the ferry last week. I was very disappointed to see video games for money set up on two tables. These games take up two tables, which is prime seating space on the boat. These games were a big distraction for many children who came near them. In this day of technology, the ferry was one of the remaining tech-free locations (aside from cell phone use). Do we need to be looking at Solitaire Cards on a screen when we have the most beautiful natural scenes on this boat ride? Is this the only creative money-making solution the SSA has? I would rather see them selling local Island products than promoting video games. I urge people to speak out. Let's keep the ferries game-free.
To the Editor:
I just wanted to take a moment to publicly thank the Vineyard Youth Tennis Center, and in particular Fritz Buehning, for the generous donation of tennis racquets to the high school. The racquets are valued at more than $1,000 and will be a great addition to our physical education program. The type of generosity shown toward our students by the Vineyard Youth Tennis Center and Mr. Buehning are what make the Vineyard a special place to live and a great place to work. Thank you again.
Who is to blame?
To the Editor:
The frustration is so thick that you want to reach out and grab it, a pervasive fog that has hung in the air for years now. They say that they are one of us, that they will fight for our needs, but the minute the swearing in is over the costumes fall off, and we realize that again we have been fooled by double talking, self serving representatives of the people. We wanted to believe that they meant it this time, that humanity had trumped selfishness and that given another chance, they would have learned their lesson and sought redemption. But again we feel the fool, having believed the fantasy all the way to the voting booth. Welcome to West Tisbury.
Complaining about our selectmen now is like the French having second thoughts about selling Louisiana. It is too late to do much. Politicians and appointed officials on Martha's Vineyard have made it clear to everyone that once the votes are counted, we should take our opinions and piss off. You at least have to admire their consistency as they regularly ignore the wants of their townspeople and try to never confuse us by actually considering our interests when making decisions. When the final vote is cast, a frenzy of opportunistic and self serving cronyism is resurrected from its hidden lair and we are left holding the bill.
Oh, don't get me wrong, our political leaders are not all bad. They absolutely shine with understanding when patronizing us and are some of the most talented hypocrites around. The only thing that they are lacking is a Charlie McCarthy doll to help them with the other side of their mouths. But if I had a complaint it would be their lack of finesse when sticking it to the voters. However, who really deserves the blame?
Every year we march into rooms for our annual placation; our town meeting. We argue endlessly about new tires for town vans, and our tempers rise over whether or not we should "look into" a new animal park or yet another endless and insignificant issue. These never go anywhere. Why? Because they are not supposed to.
No, what we are never asked about is whether or not we should spend $50,000 on another traffic study or $60,000 on a plan for a new shortcut that is simply a disguise for a new development. If we would check behind the curtains we'd find developers salivating with glee as the town blindly guides their ship to the dock as it comes in. But what about the van? Ignorance isn't feeling so blissful any longer, and my wallet is feeling lighter and lighter.
So, why is West Tisbury feeling so shafted as though this is the first questionable episode? John Alley was treated poorly, the voters told to shut up, and the decision process revealed as the virtual dictatorship that it has been for years. How did it get this way? Your vote.
We surrender our will to the idea that our Island will never change, that the status quo is cast like a fossil in impenetrable granite. I beg to differ. You can change your world, but you must believe in the power of a voice and the importance of an informed vote. If you feel that your needs have been dismissed, then vote the people out of office who are responsible. If you think that your desires regarding a police chief were ignored, then vote the perpetrators out of their positions. A familiar name means just one thing. Things will remain the same. If you want your voice to count, to matter at all and be treated with respect, then it is your responsibility to make those changes happen. If transparency is important to you in your public officials, then you must insist on it. Clearly we cannot count on respect to come to us.
We spend countless hours complaining about our national leaders and their hidden agendas. We gasp in horror when secrets are revealed and wonder how it is possible that they have remained where they are. However, we never say a word when the same thing happens in our own backyards. We start by changing ourselves, then our environment and finally the world, and it is done with action and not with words. If we don't, then we are getting exactly what we deserve. I've spent so much time looking upon the horizon in the past that I have failed to see that I needed glasses to read a menu.
Apathy feels better at this stage of the game. Admitting the truth means taking responsibility for the situation and that can be a bother. However, it has been my experience that once you stand up and demand to be respected by those you entrusted with your town, the effort is worth it.
In the end I believe that those of us who love our Island have the responsibility to protect it.
To the Editor:
Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy Hermine Hull's news about West Tisbury. I can always find tidbits about folks from town, even if they're not here right now. All the news in these sections for the various towns is well written and informative. But, I have to say Hermine's is exceptional. Thanks.
To the Editor:
The Martha's Vineyard Cancer Support Group, Inc. is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help Island residents who are dealing with cancer. We offer financial support as well as emotional support to cancer patients and their families.
We have no paid staff nor do we have an office. What we do have is 14 dedicated board members and many supporters who help to raise funds so that we can continue to help those in need.
We have had several very successful events thus far this year. The Evening under the Stars at the Mediterranean Restaurant, The Entrain concert at the Harbor View and the Tennis Tournament at Farm Neck were all graciously presented to us as means of fund-raising. Martha's Vineyard Goes Pink also contributed generously to our group. We are most appreciative of everyone who donated time, effort, and money to our cause.
We are here to help any Island person or family who is dealing with cancer. Please call 508-627-7958 for information. We also invite cancer patients and their families and friends to come to the weekly support group meeting held at 12 noon every Wednesday at the Hebrew Center on Center St. in Vineyard Haven.
If you or anyone that you know could use some help, please contact us. All inquiries are confidential.
Jane C. Carroll
M. V. Cancer Support Group, Inc.
The Fair is too expensive
To the Editor:
I have read your article in the paper and was disappointed with the article topic for the fair this year. The issue to many Islanders is not the competition but the burning hole in everyone's pocket. I have not been to the fair for three years due to overlapping plans, but when I came this year I was astonished. The fair has become a money waster.
As I read from last week's fair coverage (Aug. 17-23), "The Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Fair in West Tisbury isn't all fun and games." How can it be fun when you have to spend 20 bucks for a small family just to enter? Or send your child with $20 and all they get to do is play a game, ride the Ferris wheel, and buy a small soda, if that?
My point is that the fair is no longer an enjoyment. It's ridiculous that you have to pay a parking and entry fee, just to enjoy themselves? No longer can you enjoy the Island's crafts and wool work and animals and photography and crops without spending a heap of money.
If the excuse on the Island's behalf is that it's bringing in tourists, that's wrong. Islanders come to the fair to enjoy the community's work on display. If it's mostly Islanders coming to the fair, why are we paying so much? Island families are no longer going to go to the fair because they will not be able to afford it.
I think to be able to have everyone once again have a great time at the fair, we should greatly lower entering fees and make a family price. The parking should also be lowered. I am an Island teen, and I enjoy the feeling and energy the fair gives off and the excitement that everyone has for it, but unfortunately my family couldn't. The prices were so high they weren't able to enjoy the hall with the arts, the animals, or photography where family friends had won various prizes. Soon Island youth won't be able to come to the fair if the prices are not lowered.
In conclusion, the only way the fair can be an enjoyment again instead of a hassle is if prices are significantly lowered, and that's what everyone wants, isn't it? From a concerned Islander, 12 years of age, and an eighth-grader at the Charter School.
We must climb down
To the Editor:
I didn't see the fireworks last week, but I heard the rumble, and the bang, the occasionally sharp report that took me back to Italy 63 years ago where it was winter and the fighting was heavy. It was cold, wet and bloody awful in every sense of the word.
Perhaps we didn't think about it at the time, but what kept us going, hindsight tells me clearly, was the fact that we knew what we were fighting for and were convinced of the rightness if not necessarily the righteousness of our cause. We thought we knew our enemies and what we thought we knew was pretty terrible. What we found out later was that they were even worse, far more deserving to be loathed and destroyed than any of us could have ever conceived.
But I have recollections far more worthy of recording than those of battle, for I have recollections of the joyous welcome we received as the Allied forces moved north and closer to the heartland of the Third Reich. All the Allies were welcomed by the degraded, homeless and starving civilians of every nationality, but it was the Americans above all who seemed to be recognized as saviors from a paradise far away. A paradise not of shiny cars and beautiful dancers and romantic cowboys but a paradise where equality, justice and freedom of religion were not just words but the law. America at the time was the epitome of what the rest of the world wanted. Power, mighty military power yes, but power contrived, controlled and disbursed by men of honor and credibility.
After the concentration camps and the other horrors that we found later and after the bomb and the worldwide defeat of tyranny, the United Nations was born largely at the urging of our country in the hope of preventing another holocaust
Today, our hopes of 60 years ago are shattered, and our beautiful country is no longer loved and respected but hated and denounced in many languages and in many countries and their capitals. We have done deeds in a war which we started which would have been undreamed of even in the nightmare of World War II. Our president today will not allow his staff even to talk directly to their opposite numbers who are the elected or appointed heads of our so-called enemies.
How can two groups at war with each other ever hope to achieve a solution to any problem without a face to face confrontation and consultation? Our soldiers do not know who is or are the enemy. He who is an ally in one instant can become a deadly opponent the next. People say, "Bring the troops home now!" Fine, but Iraq is in a civil war - a civil war which is the direct result of our inexcusable military meddling. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a terrible person, but have we not been responsible for almost 1,700 American casualties and numbers of Iraqi deaths in the tens of thousands?
What is the answer? I wish above all that I knew, but this big charade must be stopped before it engulfs the entire world, an all-too-real probability. Somehow we must climb down the shaky tower which we have falsely built and upon which we have relied. Somehow we must meet and talk to those who hate us now. Somehow we must perhaps agree to disagree, perhaps we cannot cast the entire world in what we perceive to be a sacred image. If we must turn the cheek, let us do so; if we must admit mistakes, so be it. If we must admit that we are not the greatest and the only nation in the world, surely that will be better than consigning the world to damnation.
I am 81 years old, an old man to some, but still young enough to realize how I would have wept 60 years ago had I been able to look forward to today.